Sonja Flancher ’20, Eden Prairie, Minn.
Majors: English Writing and Global Studies

How did you choose your majors?

Majoring in English with a concentration in writing was not on my radar when I came to Concordia. Like many first-year students, I had little to no idea what I wanted to study and enrolled in classes based on the core requirements I needed to complete.

In the spring semester of my freshman year, I took the first-year IWC with Dr. Karla Knutson. Our assignment for the semester was to write an ethnography, a cultural portrait of a group or subculture that we had little to no experience with in the Fargo-Moorhead area. I loved everything about it, from observing and learning to putting my thoughts down on paper. On my final paper, Dr. Knutson wrote on the last page: “You should think about a major in English. Let me know if you have any questions.” I went to her office and we chatted. I declared English with a concentration in writing a semester later.

Are there other English classes or mentors that have helped you grow as a writer and an individual?

There are so many things – it’s hard to pick.

I took Scott Olsen’s feature writing class my sophomore year. Through that, I was able to write a long-format feature on the running community in the area. I went on a couple of runs with a running group that winter and connected with a community I would never have known if it hadn’t been for the course. Professor Olsen has been one of my biggest supporters on campus. I took his nonfiction writing seminar my junior year and had a blast working on my final manuscript. As a professor and mentor, he has always encouraged me to delve deep into my writing and identify why my words matter to myself as well as my audience. Even though his courses were sometimes challenging and his expectations high, I left a stronger writer after every class.

Though my major focuses on writing, I’ve taken a number of literature courses over the last four years. Dr. Joan Kopperud’s Global Literature and the Human Experience course sticks out as one of my favorite classes. It definitely changed the way I consume literature and look for books. “Partitions” by Amit Majmudar stands out as one of my favorite books from that course; I recommend it.

Dr. Sprunger’s Shakespeare class was also particularly rewarding. His passion for Shakespeare was palpable and definitely contagious, as I’m proud to say I read all of the plays in full.

Tell us about AfterWork and your role with it.

AfterWork is Concordia’s student-run literary and art journal, which contains poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and art in a variety of forms all created by students. I am this year’s editor-in-chief. As editor-in-chief, it is my job to put together a team of literary, art, and copy editors who are committed to finding quality work to put into the journal. I, along with my editors, vet and critique submissions, and choose the best ones for publication. After this is done, I work with the graphic designer, Ali Juntunen, to put the submissions together in an aesthetically pleasing and meaningful way on the page.

I’m excited to produce something that will showcase the artistic talent of Concordia students. I’m very proud to be managing this year’s edition of AfterWork, and I’m honored to keep the journal’s legacy alive and thriving.

What have you learned in this position?

There’s a lot that goes into publishing something! I’ve learned a lot about what makes a good editor. Communicating with my team and motivating them to be committed to this work are some of the most important pieces of this job.

Outside of editing, what are some of your interests?

Running, drinking tea and coffee, cooking vegetables in exciting ways, and exploring new places and ideas. I also studied abroad in India for a semester.

Any advice for new students?

Your college experience is what you make it. Don’t be afraid to come in with an “undecided” major – no one really knows what they’re doing right away. Study abroad if you’re able. It will change the way you think and learn for the better. Finally, buy a long coat and thick socks for the winter.

Published April 2020